The photo taken on July 16, 2019 shows US Secretary of Defense nominee Mark Esper attending a Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., the United States. (Photo: Xinhua)
Washington (People’s Daily) – US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on Monday contradicted US President Trump on targeting Iranian cultural sites and said, “We will follow the laws of armed conflict.”
The comments arrive a day after Trump reiterated earlier threats targeting Iranian cultural sites.
"They're allowed to kill our people, they're allowed to torture and maim our people, they're allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people, and we're not allowed to touch their cultural sites? It doesn't work that way," Trump said on Sunday.
Iranian Foreign Minister quickly tweeted, “Targeting cultural sites is a WAR CRIME.” He also mentioned that Trump’s threats violate international laws after the “cowardly assassination” of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denied Trump threatened Iranian cultural sites and said, "If we need to defend American interests, we will do so."
According to Reuters, targeting cultural sites with military action is a war crime under international law, including a UN Security Council resolution previously supported by the Trump administration in 2017, and the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property.
CNN said Trump’s threats were met with criticism because they violated international law by targeting cultural rather than military sites. US military policy has long avoided hitting cultural targets.